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Amifostine

Generic Name: amifostine (AM i FOS teen)
Brand Name: Ethyol

Medically reviewed on November 9, 2017

What is amifostine?

Amifostine is used to help lessen the side effects of certain cancer chemotherapy medications or radiation treatment.

Amifostine is used to protect the kidneys from harmful effects caused by cisplatin when given to patients with ovarian cancer.

Amifostine is also used to prevent severe dry mouth caused by radiation treatment of the head and neck, which can affect the salivary gland.

Amifostine will not prevent all side effects of chemotherapy medications. However, this medicine may help protect your body from some of the serious side effects that chemotherapy can cause.

Amifostine may also be used for purposes not listed in this medication guide.

Important Information

Avoid taking blood pressure medication within 24 hours before you receive amifostine.

Before taking this medicine

You should not be treated with amifostine if you are allergic to it, or if:

  • you are dehydrated; or

  • you have taken blood pressure medication in the past 24 hours.

You will need to stop taking any blood pressure medication for at least 24 hours before you are treated with amifostine. Talk with your doctor if you are concerned about stopping your blood pressure medication for a short time.

To make sure amifostine is safe for you, tell your doctor if you have ever had:

It is not known whether this medicine will harm an unborn baby. Tell your doctor if you are pregnant or plan to become pregnant.

It is not known whether amifostine passes into breast milk or if it could harm a nursing baby. You should not breast-feed while using this medicine.

How is amifostine given?

Amifostine is injected into a vein through an IV. A healthcare provider will give you this injection.

Amifostine is usually given within 15 to 30 minutes before the start of radiation or chemotherapy.

You may need to drink extra liquids before you receive amifostine. Follow your doctor's instructions.

You may be given other medications to prevent nausea or vomiting while you are receiving amifostine.

To be sure this medication is not causing harmful effects, your blood pressure will be watched closely while you are receiving amifostine.

If you stopped taking blood pressure medicine the day before your amifostine infusion, your caregivers will continue to check your blood pressure for a short time after your infusion.

Your doctor may ask you to take a calcium supplement while you are receiving amifostine. Take only the amount of calcium your doctor recommends.

What happens if I miss a dose?

Call your doctor for instructions if you miss an appointment for your chemotherapy or radiation treatment.

What happens if I overdose?

Seek emergency medical attention or call the Poison Help line at 1-800-222-1222.

What should I avoid while receiving amifostine?

Avoid taking blood pressure medication within 24 hours before you receive amifostine.

Avoid getting up too fast from a sitting or lying position after your amifostine infusion, or you may feel dizzy. Get up slowly and steady yourself to prevent a fall.

Amifostine side effects

Get emergency medical help if you have signs of an allergic reaction (hives, difficult breathing, swelling in your face or throat) or a severe skin reaction (fever, sore throat, burning in your eyes, skin pain, red or purple skin rash that spreads and causes blistering and peeling).

Seek medical treatment if you have a serious drug reaction that can affect many parts of your body. Symptoms may include: skin rash, fever, swollen glands, flu-like symptoms, muscle aches, severe weakness, unusual bruising, or yellowing of your skin or eyes. This reaction may occur several weeks after you began using amifostine.

Tell your caregivers right away if you have:

  • severe or ongoing vomiting;

  • a light-headed feeling, like you might pass out;

  • weak or shallow breathing;

  • chest pain, fast or slow heart rate;

  • a seizure; or

  • redness, rash, or blisters on the palms of your hands or the soles of your feet.

Common side effects may include:

  • nausea, vomiting;

  • flushing (warmth, redness, or tingly feeling);

  • fever, chills, general ill feeling;

  • rash;

  • dizziness, drowsiness;

  • hiccups, sneezing;

  • blurred vision, double vision; or

  • pain, itching, redness, bruising, or swelling around the IV needle.

This is not a complete list of side effects and others may occur. Call your doctor for medical advice about side effects. You may report side effects to FDA at 1-800-FDA-1088.

See also: Side effects (in more detail)

What other drugs will affect amifostine?

Taking any drugs that can lower your blood pressure may cause dangerous side effects while you are receiving amifostine.

Tell your doctor about all your current medicines and any you start or stop using, especially:

This list is not complete. Other drugs may interact with amifostine, including prescription and over-the-counter medicines, vitamins, and herbal products. Not all possible interactions are listed in this medication guide.

Further information

Remember, keep this and all other medicines out of the reach of children, never share your medicines with others, and use this medication only for the indication prescribed.

Always consult your healthcare provider to ensure the information displayed on this page applies to your personal circumstances.

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